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Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans a devastating blow, one from which the city is still recovering. The housing needs of many residents , especially in the poorer neighborhoods, remain unmet. This problem is compounded by a lack of finances and skilled labor. Living in an inadequate or damaged home places a heavy toll on a person’s emotional and social well-being. United Saints’ mission is to build and repair houses, helping to facilitate emotional healing.
By providing economically disadvantaged residents with resources and encouragement, we can restore a sense of community pride. As volunteers, we grow personally through the experience of caring, and the giving of our hands and our hearts.
Our goals have evolved to meet the changing needs of the Central City neighborhood. In the early months, we worked with the First Street United Methodist Church to provide basic amenities to displaced residents. As we partnered with local and national non-profits, we began to focus on gutting damaged homes. After two years, we moved forward to concentrate on rebuilding and restoration. Our projects are completed with the help of volunteers, who come from across the country to provide sweat equity and leadership.
Our current areas of activity include:
- Rebuilding—interviewing homeowners, roofing, gutter repair, siding, gutting, sheet rock and drywall installation, mudding, priming, painting, flooring, yard work and landscaping, fencing, etc.
- Restoration of neighborhoods—community cleanup, grounds beautification, community art projects and mural painting, etc.
- Restoring and strengthening the sense of community—surveying homeowners and encouraging them to get involved in their own projects, and encouraging neighbors to join together as they help each other fulfill their needs and meet the community’s goals.
The projected outcomes of these activities are to assist homeowners in returning to their homes, restore community pride, and increase community involvement through volunteerism. The final outcome and our ultimate aim is the restoration of not just a few homes, but whole blocks, neighborhoods, and communities.
We strive to match the needs of this community and to lift historic Central City to its healthy and vibrant potential. With the participation of local, national, and international volunteers, we will continue engaging and assisting homeowners, along with their families and friends, and providing training, so that they can eventually lead their own community projects.